Celebrant Views

Sorry for your loss…

Sorry for your loss , Donna Ashworth

Words are rarely enough

As a funeral celebrant and death doula, I spend my life trying to help families find the right words to express decades long relationships and pack them into a tribute and celebrations of life that in some cases (certain Crematoria) is only 20 minutes.
It’s an impossible task but one I embark on daily and manage to create a celebration of a life or a eulogy that is fitting and representative of the authenticity and truth of the deceased and that of those remembering them.  It is a privilege to do so.


And its a big but.

I do it with the closing words that acknowledge that this is not the last time this person will be honoured, memorialised, remembered or paid tribute to. I often offer to attend the wake and continue to facilitate tributes, eulogies and story telling.

It is an ongoing process. Saying ‘sorry for your loss’ is a start.

I encourage families and their friends to keep sharing stories and speaking their name.  I encourage them to take note at those moments when they use a word, phrase or gesture reminiscent of the person who has died.  And I encourage them to share that moment with those who were closest to the deceased.

When someone dies there is a tendency to stop mentioning them for fear of upsetting their loved ones.  But it is the forgetting of the loved one that is the most heart-breaking.  Sharing memories, even if they illicit tears, is not a bad thing.

So many people avoid those grieving.  Not because they don’t care, but because it is our nature to avoid difficult or uncomfortable situations.  We are not trained to face loss front on.  When we don’t know what to say or are worried we will say the wrong thing, or are concerned about upsetting someone, we often withdraw from the situation in the first place.

As friends and fellow grievers, we owe it to our late friends and their families to walk or sit alongside them.  To listen.  To hear.  To be available, companionable, even in silence.  To simply just BE alongside then and hold them in our hearts and minds.

Our words will not take away or diminish the grief.  It will not fast track them through their grief journey, but it will help support them.

We have to suck up our own discomfort and be PRESENT for our friends and family who are grieving.

No two people grieve in the same way, no ones grief journey is wrong.  Whatever any individual is feeling on any given day, hour or minute is totally valid and normal.  Even if their feelings and reactions are totally different from your own.

You don’t have to have the right words or even the right actions.  You simply have to BE.  To remember, and to walk alongside.

I leave you with this from Roshi Joan Halifax

May I offer my care and presence, even though it may be met by gratitude, indifference, anger or anguish. May I offer my love knowing I cannot control the suffering.

In loving memory of a beautiful, complex, gentle, compassionate man, my friend Dave George 

If this or any other posts here or elsewhere have affected you and you need support, please may I direct you to The Good Grief Trust

https://www.thegoodgrieftrust.org/The Good Grief Trust exists to help all those affected by grief in the UK. Their vision is to help those bereaved from day one, acknowledge their grief and provide reassurance, a virtual hand of friendship and ongoing support.

It was set up by Linda Magistris after she lost her partner Graham to a rare cancer, a soft tissue sarcoma, on September 2nd 2014.


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